Disabled Vets Get Hot Wheels Despite Their Wheelchairs


The minivan has long been the standard vehicle to adapt for wheelchair accessibility, because of its low height, large interior, and capacity to carry the extra weight of an electric wheelchair. According to USA Today, however, the young vets are prompting some rethinking within the accessible vehicle industry.

These young vets, mostly men in their 20s and 30s, want stylish accessible vehicles. Sometimes this can be achieved by customizing a traditional minivan with features that make it look more like an SUV. For instance, Vantage Mobility International, a company in Phoenix that converts accessible vans, has been showing a van at trade shows that has been customized to include “20-inch custom wheels, a blacked-out grille, darkened windows, two-toned inserts in the seats.”

Pickup trucks are also a popular option for young vets, but as trucks are higher than minivans they can’t be easily accessed by ramps. This issue is solved with seats that swivel and then lower out of the driver’s-side door, allowing for transfer directly to the driving seat. A crane is then used to lift the wheelchair into the back of the pickup. Alternately, there are accessible pickups that feature a sliding driver’s-side door that moves out of the way to make room for a wheelchair lift.

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.